Treatable shoulder impairment affects approximately 30% of the American population. This percentage will probably increase as adults desire to be involved in sporting/recreational activities later in life while at the same time, adolescents challenge the shoulder joint to great extents via sport specialization, not to mention overuse thereof.
All of this may lead to an appointment with the local orthopedic physician or physical therapist (yes, there is direct access in MN). Here, questions commonly arise about the progression of care including the use of medications, injectable, the use of diagnostic imaging, and surgery.
Shoulder Wear and Tear
Approximately 95% of shoulder ailments fall under the category of “wear and tear”, culminating in an episode of mild trauma or overuse (i.e. overhead painting) that initiates symptoms. Taking into consideration that the majority of 60 year olds have rotator cuff degeneration (the four muscles that control ball on socket motion), it is not a stretch to appreciate the vulnerability.
In most situations with a straight forward non-traumatic history regarding the shoulder, imaging such as x-ray or MRI is not required at the initial visit. The qualified medical provider is able to determine with a high degree of confidence the overall quality of bony/joint structure as well as that of the rotator cuff via the manual examination. Depending on the severity of the injury, relative rest in conjunction with, if necessary, appropriate oral medications and ultimately timely motion patterns are implemented via a formal physical therapy program.
In the next Shoulder Care Post, we will get into the benefits of Physical Therapy in the resolution of shoulder ailments.